Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Election Post Mortem

My opinion, and I could be wrong, is the main mistake the Democrats made was in prematurely taking credit for and defending the status quo.  The Republicans are the primary villains, from my perspective, and it was their obstruction that kept the status quo from being more palatable to voters.  Instead of calling the Republicans out on this, the Democrats went overboard is claiming that the economy was doing well.  Another example of this was "Obamacare", which was a Republican designed program, after all.

I actually thought for a time that Obama would not be reelected in 2012 because of what I just said above. But Mitt Romney was an establishment candidate who didn't get his base enthused.  Whereas Romney was emblematic of the financial elite, Trump took the opposite approach by vilifying Hillary's Wall Street ties.  For all Trump's faults, he correctly judged the extent of popular discontent with the economy, in my opinion.

An argument can be made that Trump won with racism and xenophobia, but it's not that simple.  The Democrats, led by Hillary, played into that dynamic by making "identity politics" a big part of their campaign.  It worked for Hillary against Bernie (Bernie Bros were parodied as young naive white men), but backfired in the general election.  White men are still opinion leaders in many communities, organizations, and families.  Thus, they may have influence out of proportion to their raw numbers.

Here's an example related to the theme of identity politics:  Paul Krugman led the charge of Democratic economists in favor of Hillary.  Here he is in a June Op-Ed:
This is going to be mostly an election about identity.  The Republican nominee represents little more than the rage of white men over a changing nation. And he’ll be facing a woman — yes, gender is another important dimension in this story — who owes her nomination to the very groups his base hates and fears.
The question now is whether we double down on identity politics, or try to win based on broadly applicable principles and policies?  Of course, I think we should go for the fresh ideas to solve problems.  One thing I've noticed is that the old liberal opinion leaders have become rather conservative.  For one example, I recall Hillary's stance on "Obamacare", where she was clearly to tired to think of making fundamental changes and said as much. I don't blame her -- going up against the right wing noise machine for years would do that to anyone.


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